The City Island Nautical Museum, now and through the fall, is showcasing a group of boating prints from the historic Rosenfeld Collection. The collection is housed at Mystic Seaport, The Museum of America and the Sea.
The Rosenfeld Collection, an anthology of almost one million maritime photographs from 1881 to 1992, is considered the largest cache of its kind in the world.
The collection was created by City Islander Morris Rosenfeld and his three sons: David, Stanley, and William. The elder Rosenfeld moved his family to the island’s Horton Street in 1926.
Many of the photographs are of boats and yacht-building on and off City Island from years past, explained Tom Nye, museum president and curator.
The exhibit prints were purchased from Mystic, and include images of some of the most beautiful boats from the island’s yacht yards: Dorade, Brilliant, Bolero, Constellation, Infanta, and Analgra, as well as a selection of racing photographs.
In addition to this, Nye has created a unique slide show featuring Rosenfeld images and other photographs from the museum’s collection.
“It is important because it is the largest collection of marine photographs in the country,” said Nye. “Basically, if you pick up any periodical from the 1910s through the 1970s, most of the shots within it, including an incredible amount of the stock shots, were by Rosenfeld.”
Many of the photos that were already in the collection at the City Island Nautical Museum are Rosenfelds, and were already part of the museum collection, said Nye.
“The museum owns a number of prints taken by the Rosenfeld family, but they are in fragile condition and they are not what is on exhibition,” said Barbara Dolesnek, museum vice-president, who took care to explain that this is the City Island exhibit featuring Rosenfeld photographs, not a ‘collection’ exhibit.
“It focuses not only on the Rosenfelds, but on the most handsome boats on City Island,” she added.
The images now available for viewing at the Nautical Museum come from a collection that includes sailboats, steam yachts, naval vessels, powerboat races, leisure activities, and every America’s Cup Race from 1885 to 1992.
Nye also infused much history and folklore about the Rosenfeld Collection into the local’s museum’s exhibition.
For instance, he noted in a conversation that while all three of Morris Rosenfeld’s sons took photographs, the credit always read “Morris Rosenfeld.”
For more information, visit the website www.cityislandmuseum.org. The museum, which is located at 190 Fordham Street, is open Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and by special appointment.